Electric cars are still relatively new pieces of technology. And like many new technologies, they’ve struggled to provide the same kind of reliability as the products they aim to replace. In fact, Consumer Reports recently ranked Tesla as manufacturing some of the least reliable vehicles on the market. Thankfully, lemon laws protect electric vehicles (EVs) as well as traditional automobiles.
By 2030, EVs will account for 50% of all passenger vehicles sold in the United States. At least that’s the goal set by President Biden. For reference, in 2020, electric vehicles accounted for just 2.4% of new vehicle sales. To increase their market share 20-fold over the next decade, electric car manufacturers will need to solve a number of technical issues, which have affected the first generation of modern EVs.
Defects of Electric Cars: Batteries and Software
Batteries are the biggest difference between traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs) and EVs. So it makes sense that batteries are also some of the most likely components to be defective.
Gas cars rely on batteries to start the engine and to run the car’s electrical components. But these tasks require a paltry amount of energy when compared to powering the engine. So when a traditional car battery fails or loses power, jump-starting the car or spending a couple of hundred dollars on a replacement typically solves the problem.
Electric vehicles, on the other hand, rely on their batteries for more than just starting the engine. Their batteries also provide the necessary power to get you to your destination. As a result, the capacity of an EV battery might be 1,000 times greater than that of a traditional car battery. So if something goes wrong with these batteries, repairing or replacing them typically costs thousands rather than hundreds of dollars.
EV batteries are susceptible to a wide variety of defects, the most common of which is a decreased capacity. All rechargeable batteries lose capacity over time. But electric cars generally come with warranties that cover excessive degradation for the first 8 years or 100,000+ miles. For Tesla models, the warranty guarantees at least 70% retention of battery capacity.
So if you’ve owned an electric vehicle for less than 8 years and can’t drive the long distances you could when the car was new, take the vehicle in for warranty service. Hopefully, the manufacturer will repair or replace the battery on your first visit.
But if the issue persists after a reasonable number of repair attempts, let us know. It may be necessary to file a Lemon Law claim to hold the manufacturer responsible for the defect.
Electric vehicle batteries densely pack immense amounts of energy into a relatively small package. In rare cases, manufacturing defects have led these batteries to catch fire. Over the last year, such issues have resulted in a handful of recalls, which cost manufacturers $2.2 billion.
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to make a Lemon Law claim for a failed battery given the lengths that manufacturers go to prevent such failures. Still, it’s important to be aware of the possible defects you may face after purchasing an electric vehicle.
Although EVs are less mechanically complicated than gas-powered vehicles, they rely more heavily on software, which opens them up to a different kind of defect. Software controls everything from where to distribute the battery’s power to self-driving features and simpler things like the lights and radio.
The good news is that software defects don’t always require a trip to the dealer to be fixed. However, we still recommend bringing your car in whenever you experience a problem so that the dealer has a record of it. The bad news is that, with hundreds of millions if not billions of lines of code in an EV, it seems inevitable that there will be a few mistakes.
To date, software-related Lemon Law cases involving electric vehicles have been few and far between. But as software becomes an even more integral part of driving in the coming years, such cases are sure to become more commonplace. Autonomous driving features are being added to more cars every year and serious defects in that kind of software could be fatal.
In time, legislatures may introduce new lemon laws to cover software-related defects. But for now, we must rely on consumer protections from existing state and federal lemon laws.
Need Help with Lemon Laws for an Electric Car?
Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® has attorneys ready to fight for your rights in throughout the United States. With a success rate greater than 99%, we’re confident that we can help you collect the compensation you deserve. To get started, reach out to us today for a free case review.